“Physiotherapist” and “osteopath” are terms that are quite easily confused in the collective mind.

However, if it happens that some physiotherapists are osteopaths, these are indeed two different professions. Explanations.

Physiotherapist and osteopath, two very distinct professions

Physiotherapy and osteopathy are practices that are often confused.

The physiotherapist is a physiotherapy practitioner. He studied for five years to obtain a state diploma. It is a paramedical discipline which aims to restore or compensate for the alteration of a person’s functional capacities.

The professional only intervenes after a doctor has made a diagnosis. His work is then focused on the musculo-tendinous system. It only targets the painful area.

To treat, he uses manual techniques, rehabilitation exercises and sometimes uses certain devices. His intervention requires several sessions. There are specializations, such as sports physiotherapy for example.

Osteopathy is a discipline that appeared in the United States. It is a set of techniques based on the manipulation of bones and muscles. Osteopathy takes a holistic vision.

All parts of the body are connected together by tissues, so the osteopath treats the body as a compact whole. He practices with the hand and treats functional problems.

Most of the time, it is pain whose exact cause is not certain. These can cause daily discomfort. The role of the osteopath is to remove the blockage of the joints and allow the body to function better.

The differences between physiotherapist and osteopath

If the two disciplines can treat the same type of pathologies, there are obvious differences which should prevent confusion.

According to Jérôme Auger, sports physiotherapist, these differences are:

  • Physiotherapy treats pathologies in isolation while osteopathy sees the body as a whole;
  • The osteopath only uses manual techniques while the physiotherapist sometimes uses machines ;
  • Physiotherapy is governed by the Health Code, the sessions can thus be prescribed by a doctor and reimbursed by Social Security. Osteopathy is considered complementary medicine;
  • The osteopath only intervenes occasionally, one to three sessions. The physiotherapist intervenes many times, and in close succession.

Physiotherapy allows rehabilitation in the musculoskeletal sphere while osteopathy allows the prevention and treatment of a wide range of musculoskeletal disorders but also in the visceral, cranial, digestive, respiratory, etc. spheres.

Florine Cauchie

Health journalist

June 10, 2024, at 3:10 p.m.

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